Ascent of Horstmann Peak on 2016-07-26

Climber: Kelsey Backen

Others in Party:Brian Olson
Date:Tuesday, July 26, 2016
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:Car
Peak:Horstmann Peak
    Elevation:10470 ft / 3191 m

Ascent Trip Report

First, why the hell isn't this peak more greatly reported? This was the most challenging single peak trip I have ever made. What a mix of terrain and challenges!

Our (Brian Olson and I) total trip time was about 13 hours, half that time was spent bushwhacking. On the way up we stayed toward the north side of the valley (on satellite imagery you can see the yellowish/brownish streak that terminates at the base of Bush Peak). At this point we faced the stereotypical Sawtooth bushwhack, complete with two more stream crossings (we had one earlier that runs SE off of the Thompson/Williams valley).

We hit the treeless, rocky approach of the north foot of Horseman after 3 hours. It took us Around 40 minutes to climb the 800 feet to the edge of the snow for the start of our snow climb up the Sickle Couloir. We geared up and ate some food over the next 40 minutes, then set off on my first snow climb.

We faced about 200 meters of non-perilous climbing before entering the couloir proper and a significant increase in gradient and concomitant pucker factor. I would guess the climb was averaging over 45 degrees with significant kicks above this average, especially in the last quarter of the coolie. The snow at the start was about perfect in my novice opinion, but as we climbed the frequency of icy bands increased while the snow actually started to get softer. Obviously, this made the climb much more technical and dangerous. I was wearing flexible soled boots and glacier rated crampons, so I think my gear wasn't entirely appropriate. At times one of my footholds would come loose and only 1 of my ice axes would stay in place, the other slipping downward a half of a foot before grabbing. Towards the very top (the last 50 feet) the snow stopped and we ran into a huge precariously placed boulder in the gap. There were no hand holds except for said boulder. There was one crack to stick a tooth of one crampon in before the leap of faith. A fall here would be tragic and thankfully we didn't fall.

We made the tiny saddle after the 1500' climb in about 2 hours. We were relieve to be there but exhausted. Mostly likely due to the 2 hours of adrenaline dump we had just experienced. We decided to down climb from the saddle and take the southern class 3 route to the summit versus the class 4 route from the saddle up. Really, we just didn't want to expose ourselves to any more life threatening decisions. I regret this a little now, but I know why we made the decision. We down climbed south and west until we felt we located the chute that would take us to the un-obvious summit proper.

For me, what ensued was one of the most enjoyable summit approaches I have ever had. I stayed on a rocky ridge, exposing myself to class 4 climbing on mostly good rock. It turned out we had gone too far west so we needed to climb back east over a few false summits and even more class 4 scrambling.

The summit register (thanks to the Iowa Mountaineers) was the coolest one I have seen yet. Unfortunately, there was no room to sign on it, but that is okay. To date, this was the most enjoyable and satisfying peak I have ever bagged.

Then there was the down climb. We took the drainage off the south side off Horstmann. I would not suggest this to anyone. Stay on the north or west side if you can and take the Fishhook drainage back.
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:3910 ft / 1191 m
    Grade/Class:Class 1-4
    Quality:9 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail, Unmaintained Trail, Bushwhack, Stream Ford, Snow on Ground, Scramble, Exposed Scramble, Snow Climb
    Gear Used:
Ice Axe, Crampons, Ski Poles
Ascent Statistics
    Gain on way in:3910 ft / 1191 m
    Route:Fish Hook Creek
    Start Trailhead:Redfish Trailhead Parking  6560 ft / 1999 m
    Time:7 Hours 45 Minutes
Descent Statistics
    Time:4 Hours 15 Minutes

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